Bruce Dickinson says that he covered his cancer battle in great detail in his autobiography partly because he wanted to “redress the balance from some of the really salacious shitty stuff that the trolling journalists” wrote about him when his diagnosis was first revealed.
In “What Does This Button Do?”, the IRON MAIDEN singer talked about how he overcame the “golf-ball”-sized growth on his tongue and endured radiation therapy that left the energetic frontman sapped of energy.
Dickinson later expressed disdain for some of the media outlets that suggested he may have gotten tongue cancer from performing oral sex on women.
Asked in a new interview with Vulture if he was tired of talking about his tongue cancer, Bruce responded: “It doesn’t overly concern me. What I don’t want to turn into is somebody where people come up with sick babies and say, ‘Touch my baby! Heal me!’
“It’s a scary subject, particularly for people who are afraid of it or who know somebody with cancer,” he continued. “Obviously, it was the beginning of the rest of my life. I also wanted to redress the balance from some of the really salacious shitty stuff that the trolling journalists stuck out when I first got it. There were some really offensive things. It’s not fair to every other man that might have this cancer. If you said that about women with cervical cancer, people would be outraged. But because it’s a guy, ‘We can make all these jokes about oral sex and put out offensive things about his wife.’ It’s outrageous. Also, there’s a genuine public-health concern. This is a really big issue that’s gonna come back to bite 80 percent of the population, men and women. It’s something that people should be aware of but not scared of, because it’s a highly curable cancer. That’s why it’s in the book in that kind of detail.”
Bruce previously told iNews that he wanted to cover the episode in his book to raise awareness of the condition, which affects people who often have no or minimal history of tobacco or alcohol abuse. The individuals with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer who undergo treatment have a disease-free survival rate of 85 to 90 percent over five years.
While most strains of HPV clear up on their own, the sexually transmitted virus is responsible for an array of cancers.
The Huffington Post reported in 2013 that oral sex is an avenue through which a person can contract HPV and especially the strains HPV-18 and HPV-16, the latter of which is responsible for half of oral cancer cases, according to the National Cancer Institute. HPV-16, HPV-18 and some less-common strains can also cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus and penis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and approximately 14 million people become newly infected each year, making it the most common sexually transmitted infection in the nation.